The United States administration has said that H-1B visa (skilled temporary) workers can expect to be treated with “very reasonable consideration,” for requests to telework as part of their companies’ current work policies, a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on a briefing call with reporters earlier this week.
U.S. companies across many States have moved to teleworking in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The official, who was responding to a question from Asian News International (ANI) news agency, said that while they would not be able to comment on the specific direction of policy without consulting the United States Citizenship Information Service (USCIS), they expected it to have a “very reasonable” view of the situation.
“… we are supporting, across the department, steps for safer working environments in light of the Coronavirus, so I would be expecting to see that extended to the terms and conditions enforced with respect to H-1B visas,” he said.
“I think you can expect to have a very reasonable consideration from USCIS in all of these sort of circumstances that are only caused by the Coronavirus.”
Generally, an amended or new H-1B petition needs to be filed prior to a worker starting work at a new site. Once the amendment is filed, the worker can start working at the new location immediately, without having to wait for a final decision on the petition.
USCIS offices have been closed to the public since March 18 and will remain shut until April 17, unless the pandemic situation does not permit it. Emergency appointments may be scheduled via the USCIS contact centre.
If you are in the U.S. now and your visa is expiring and you are unable to leave because there are no flights to your home country due to the pandemic , you can apply for an extension to the USCIS, the official said.
“So visas, for instance, where an extension is being requested today and you’re going to a country where the flights have been taken down, can readily be expected to be favorably received by USCIS, whereas say two months ago that would not have been the case. If flights are available and your visa’s coming to an end, you’d have been expected to get on one of those flights and return home.”